L.A. Outlaws has the most compelling female villain I’ve ever seen in a noir crime novel, so I’ve been hankering to see the movie version since first reading Allison Murrieta’s big, flashy voice. The question that sprang from my lips when I found myself seated across from T. Jefferson Parker at lunch was: Where the heck is the movie? The following conversation unfolded…
FILMMAKERS: The long-held option Lionsgate holds is expiring, and the rights will be available for producers looking for a great noir mystery. SPREAD THE WORD! —Elaine Ash (pictured RIGHT with Jeff at a Sisters in Crime Los Angeles lunch).
Jeff Parker: Lionsgate made me an offer when the book was published and then they gave me an option for renewal at the end of that time which is more money. That time comes at the end of September, and those rights revert to me unless they greenlight the project and start making it. So I’m going to get those rights back almost for sure. As you know, L.A. Outlaws was the first of a 6-book series, and that means that all the characters in L.A. Outlaws belong to them [Lionsgate]. All those characters are tied up and that’s why I want them back.
Elaine Ash: May I publicize that in a very short while you’re almost sure to get the rights back? Other filmmakers may be interested to know that.
(RIGHT: Jennifer Lopez as Allison Murrieta? Here she is in Out of Sight)
Elaine: Okay, I’m going to tell the world. I want to see that movie!
Jeff: Well good, you have a personal stake in this. You want to see the movie. Maybe Lionsgate will listen to you. The TV people over there have it. I knew when I wrote L.A. Outlaws that it was going to be the first of a series, but it’s a grown-up story. I never really saw it on TV.
Elaine: Who could you see playing Allison Murrieta? (For a while Allison appears to be the main character of the story, although she gets killed in the end, so Charlie Hood, Sheriff’s Deputy, steps up as the main protagonist).
Jeff: I love J-Lo [Jennifer Lopez] based on that movie she did called Out of Sight. Allison knows how to stand up for herself and J-Lo does too. Based on her physical person, there’s a lot of running and fighting and Allison is Hispanic, just like J-Lo.
Elaine: Have you written a script?
Elaine: Do you write scripts?
Jeff: No. I’ve tried a few of them but they’re really hard to write. I’m busy with my novels and they’re really hard to write, for one. For another, you have to know what you’re doing. Some of us have the knack and some of us don’t. All my screenwriter friends say anybody who can write a novel can write a screenplay or a teleplay but you have to know how to do it. You have to know how to put it together, and I’m not that guy. I never learned that form.
Jeff: Any good, working screenwriter at the moment. I don’t know who the hot screenwriters are at the moment. I know Joe Eszterhas was interested. They took a meeting with him about the possibility of L.A. Outlaws getting made but that was the end of it.
Elaine: Who is your dream Charlie Hood?
Jeff: The kid who played Spiderman. Tobey Maguire. He’s a little gawky, he not like a classic superhero guy at all, he’s a perfect Charlie Hood.
Elaine: That love scene in the book would be really something between Allison and him.
[The table laughs.]